Just in time for Valentine’s Day, I’m thrilled to share a special Q&A interview with my friends Marc and Amy Vachon whose book, Equally SharedParenting: Rewriting the Rules for a New Generation of Parents just came out last month. Listen in to our conversation here and then check out their book and the additional resources on my Remodeling Motherhood Tools page!
What were the hardest assumptions of your own that each of you had to overcome to make ESP work? And can you each share your most memorable example of a time when your ESP arrangement challenged someone ELSE’s stereotypes about mothers and fathers?
Marc: Early in my career, I presumed that it was my responsibility to maximize my earning power to support a family someday. This led to the standard male prescriptive to forge ahead with long hours and an unbalanced dedication toward work. Letting that assumption go took courage (especially since I didn’t have role models to follow as I approached my boss with a request to work part-time – as a single guy). But it allowed me to create a life that I love daily. My work focus changed from wanting to retire early to wanting to work forever.
Amy: The most difficult assumption I had to shake was probably the notion that I had more responsibility for the home and the children. I still catch myself stressing out about little projects or an upcoming dinner party, and have to remember that these tasks can be jointly planned and handled – as long as I let Marc work alongside me as a true peer.
Both: We can think of two separate examples that highlight how others’ stereotypes can rub up against the notion of an equal partnership. In the first, Amy was picking up our daughter from Kindergarten in the school playground when our then 2-year old son threw a temper tantrum and stomped off a few yards away. A random mother was heard commenting snidely, “Who is that kid’s mother?” Yet a couple of months prior, Marc was handling the same pickup, in the same playground, with the same 2-year old throwing a tantrum (what can we say – a 2:20 pickup time doesn’t always mesh with a toddler’s nap schedule!). This time, a random mom approached Marc to ask if she could intervene to calm our son down. She explained that she was “very good at these types of things.”
The second example happened when our daughter was about 2, and fell off a swing at a friend’s birthday party. She ran right past Amy, all the way across the yard into Marc’s arms for comfort. The other parents at the party were too polite to say anything, but we often wonder if they thought Amy had failed as the “mother” in that moment. Amy felt a twinge of self-consciousness, but we both mark that event as one of those times when we could say, “We did it – we gave her two parents she could go to and this is cause for celebration!” Continue reading